Protector of the Church

This is one of two main scenes at each side of the “St. Joseph Chapel” of the Basilica. St. Joseph, Patron of the Church, is seen with his hand extended protectively over four angels, who hold symbols of papal authority: St. Peter’s basilica, the pope’s tiara, the keys of Peter (Mt 16:18-19), and the pastoral staff. Below the image shown is Pius IX holding a decree with the written text “Deus qui ineffabili providentia …” the oration for St. Joseph that was prescribed in the Apostolic Letter of July 1871, “Inclitum Patriarcham,” which gave liturgical directives for the celebration of Patronage of St. Joseph, which had been decreed the previous December. The oration is still used for the votive Mass of St. Joseph in the current Roman Missal. Pius IX is flanked on the left by Benedict XIII, holding a reference to his decree of December 1726 inserting St. Joseph’s name in the Litany of the Saints and the prayers for the dying; and on the right by Clement XI, who approved a new Office for St. Joseph. Below him is the Ship of the Church steered by Leo XIII, who reigned until 1903.